HYDERABAD: If a lower court has convicted an accused of murder, then the punishment awarded cannot be interfered with by an appellate court. This is, provided the prosecution succeeds in establishing the guilt of the accused beyond all reasonable doubt. One such case came up when an accused, awarded by the lower courts with life imprisonment under the Section 302 IPC for the brutal killing of a 15-year-old girl, approached the Hyderabad High Court challenging the lower court’s ruling.
The accused, Prajwal (name changed) was proved to have heinously murdered the deceased, Nidhi (name changed) after the girl did not agree to marry the boy. The case also denied the appellate courts any right to treat a heinous murder as an offence under the Section 304-A of the IPC (Causing death by negligence) even if the accused is an immature young man. The rationale given was that doing this would only jeopardise the safety of young women in the society.
In the said case, the prosecution laid out the case as follows. Prajwal regularly visited Nidhi’s neighbour which is how they met and eventually fell in love. Soon they decided to get married and informed their parents about their decision. However, Nidhi’s father was against the engagement and warned his daughter against the marriage. But this did not deter the young couple from continuing their relationship. Prajwal would often visit Nidhi’s residence in the absence of her family members. Needless to say, the couple were sexually intimate as well.
Prajwal’s obsession would grow with Nidhi whenever she would be seen interacting with another male. For the last few days Nidhi had been exerting Prajwal even more into marrying her. Vexed by her continued pestering, he allegedly decided to get rid of the young girl.
On the fateful day, Prajwal was at Nidhi’s residence when she started to abuse him for not marrying her. Prajwal then gagged her with a handkerchief and with the knife he was carrying, slit the teenage girl’s throat thrice.
Prajwal then fled the spot after Nidhi raised loud cries which reached her family members and other villagers, who soon assembled on the spot. They did succeed in spotting Prajwal as he fled the scene. A complaint was immediately lodged by Nidhi’s family members who found her lying in a pool of blood inside the house.
In spite of no direct witnesses present, a strong case was build by the prosecution based on circumstantial evidence. Nidhi’s mother categorically stated that Prajwal was in love with her daughter and despite being refused by the family, he would come to their residence and cajole Nidhi into marrying him on the pretext of his own marriage to other girls. While the neighbours also confirmed that they had often seen Nidhi and Prajwal together and when asked about their relationship, they said Nidhi always said they were going to get married soon.
An aggrieved Prajwal then approached the High Court where the bench observed that the prosecution’s evidence sounded natural and truthful. “In the absence of even a suggestion that there was any rivalry or ill feelings between the accused and them, we do not find any reason for these witnesses to implicate the appellant and speak falsehood. Especially when the parents have lost their beloved young daughter by homicidal death, there can be no reason for them to spare the real culprit and falsely implicate an innocent person”, the bench observed.
The bench dismissed the appeal saying that it do not find any reason to interfere with the verdict of the lower court.